The Write Stuff
April 2015 Volume 11 Issue 4
That or Which: What’s Right?
The answer to this commonly posed question can be confusing, as many explanations include verbiage like restrictive and non-restrictive clauses—words that probably caused you to stop listening to your English teacher way back when. Thus, let me provide some clarity on this often-perplexing issue.
I agree with Better Writing Skills that the following rule of thumb regarding that and which makes sense:
- Use which (preceded by a comma) if the information after it adds information to the sentence.
- Use that (with no punctuation) to limit the set of things you’re talking about.
Here are two examples of this rule in play:
- Baseballs that are hit into the Wrigley Field stands make great souvenirs.
- Wrigley Field, which has been around since 1914, is getting a long-overdue facelift.
Got it? It’s also worth noting that who should be used rather than that when referring to people:
- The Cubs fans who are braving the elements to attend early-season games at Wrigley Field are getting their money’s worth.
Can you tell I have baseball on the brain? It’s been 106 years since my beloved Cubbies won it all and after years of holding down last place in the division, we finally have some hope—so can you blame me?
No Year Needed
Is it always necessary to use the year when referring to dates? I say no. I believe unless you’re preparing a legal document, most times the year is not necessary; it’s understood. “The Cubs visit San Diego from May 19-21.” “The left field bleachers at Wrigley should be open on May 11.” Readers will logically—and correctly—assume you mean the current year.
What’s correct: well-being or wellbeing? Spell check is no help, as it flags well-being (suggesting well being) and allows wellbeing. The accepted U.S. spelling is well-being (but the hyphen is often eliminated, as in the graphic above), while wellbeing is the standard in England and Australia.
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